Here's my take, although it's still early in spring training, how the Cardinals' roster will shake out:
Starting rotation: Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook and Joe Kelly.
I'd feel tons better about this rotation if the Redbirds had let Westbrook walk as a free agent and instead signed Kyle Lohse to an extension. Lohse filled in well as the number two starter in 2011 when Wainwright was hurt and again in 2012 when Chris Carpenter couldn't pitch. Of course, the Cardinals had no way of knowing when Lohse signed that they might be able to get Lohse for a one or two-year deal... But what's left is a rotation of Wainwright and several solid hurlers. But no one else one can really imagine taking the ball in the second game of a playoff series.
Bullpen: Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs, Edward Mujica, Randy Choate, Marc Rzepczynski, Trevor Rosenthal and Eduardo Sanchez.
Never miss a local story.
Most of the bullpen makeup is a no-brainer. Unless someone in that group gets hurt, the closer Motte, setup man Boggs, seventh inning stabilizer Mujica and the two lefties, Choate and Rzepczynski, are locks. I think Rosenthal needs to be in the major league bullpen because there is a good chance he's going to be the St. Louis closer in 2015. If he works the middle innings this season, he could graduate to some set up work in 2014 and then be poised to take over the last frame when Motte is a pricey free agent in 2015.
Starting line-up: Jon Jay (CF), Matt Carpenter (2B), Matt Holliday (LF), Carlos Beltran (RF), Allen Craig (1B), David Freese (3B), Yadier Molina (C), Furcal (SS).
I'll go ahead and play along with the Cardinals' assertion that Furcal is going to be ready for opening day. If he is healthy enough to play, he'd start. I have Matt Carpenter penciled in the line-up because I like his bat. But, honestly, I think Daniel Descalso will make plenty of starts there. I also belive, however, that Carlos Beltran is going to sit plenty of games which will cause a variety of line-up alterations including some games where Craig plays right field and Carpenter plays first.
Bench: Tony Cruz (C), Daniel Descalso (2B, 3B, SS), Ronnie Cedeno (SS, 2B, 3B), Ty Wigginton (3B, 2B, 1B, LF, RF), Shane Robinson.
Shane Robinson likely wins the last roster spot because he can play centerfield. I believe that the Cardinals would be wise to send Oscar Tavares to Class AAA Memphis to start the season and leave him there at least until May when his free agency eligibility would be pushed back a whole year. Second base Kolten Wong would benefit from time in Memphis as well. The Cardinals, if Carpenter continues to transition well to second base, are well covered at second base. Their point of concern is shortstop. But the numbers game likely puts 2012 call-up and playoff star Pete Kozma back in the minors waiting for a call.